Candice Perry remembers the woman, a successful entrepreneur, well. She was in Perry’s office at the Albion Fellows Bacon Center. The woman was nursing a baby in her lap, taking business calls, and instructing staff. At the same time, she was filling out protection order paperwork against an abusive spouse.
“We were discussing the many obstacles she would have to think through, including the social stigma if this got out, and at that same moment she was an executive — from the seat of my office,” Perry says. “It was just so profound to me that her strength was always there.”
In her nearly 20 years at the Albion Fellows Bacon Center, Perry thinks of that scene often. It reminds her of the sobering prevalence of intimate crimes, the center’s main focus, as it works to eliminate domestic and sexual violence through advocacy, education, support services, and collaborative partnerships. Perry has had a major role in the center’s growth and impact.
She was first hired as the center’s community outreach specialist in 1993 after earning a psychology degree from the University of Southern Indiana. A year later, she was named the legal advocacy program coordinator, forging new programs like a curriculum for law enforcement. In 2008, Perry became the center’s executive director.
“Albion provides us with insight into the horrible world of domestic and sexual violence from a perspective we, in law enforcement, may not have otherwise,” says Eric Williams, Vanderburgh County Sheriff and a longtime Albion board member.
The center provides safe shelter in Evansville, and services and centers are open in 11 southern Indiana counties. It offers case management, referrals, and helps clients develop plans for their next steps. Albion staff members are also prevention educators in the community.
Albion’s trained crisis response advocates are available by phone at all hours, every day, and all year, to assist victims of abuse. The services are free, confidential, and are offered to both men and women. Albion’s purpose and vision are for its clients to feel believed, supported, understood, and empowered.
Perry acknowledges that a stark reality of working with abused clients is that they often return to their abusive relationships an average of seven to nine times. That’s why Albion’s staff works hard to add zero pressure to an already stressful situation.
“The victim will have to make decisions that others would not agree with for his or her own safety, for his or her survival, and (for) that of his or her children,” Perry says. “Leaving the relationship is a scary step and statistically a dangerous one.”
“Candice puts her heart and soul into the mission,” says Carol Braden-Clarke, president of the United Way of Southwestern Indiana. “She is just a genuinely good person who cares deeply about working together for the greater good of our community.”
Perry is quick to return the compliment.
The Evansville resident has two children, Austin and Arika, with her husband of 25 years, Bryan.
“I am every day thankful for the family I grew up with and for the family I enjoy today,” she says, “I am an advocate first; ‘executive director’ happens to be my title.”
The Albion Fellows Bacon Center is named for a prominent Evansville woman who devoted her life to housing reform, according to an Indiana government website.
For more information on the Albion Fellows Bacon Center, call 812-422-9372 or visit albionfellowsbacon.org. Those in need of help can call the crisis line at 812-422-5622.